Province may be signalling support for Calgary Olympic bid

Two provincial cabinet ministers will travel to the Winter Olympics in February, potentially signalling support for a Calgary 2026 Olympic bid.

Two cabinet ministers will join the Calgary delegation to the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea

As Calgary considers making a bid for the 2026 Winter Games, two Alberta cabinet ministers will join city officials in South Korea for the Olympics in February. (Jonathan Utz/AFP/Getty Images)

The provincial government might be preparing to pitch in on a prospective Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Premier Rachel Notley said deputy premier Sarah Hoffman and tourism minister Ricardo Miranda will join Calgary's delegation to observe the Olympics in Pyeongchang in February.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he has not yet received a formal response from the provincial government that it's willing to help fund a 2026 Olympic bid committee.

The city is hoping for about $10 million from both the federal and provincial governments.

But the mayor feels that two ministers being tentatively booked to go to South Korea could be a sign.

"Strong signal"

"I would imagine that that's a pretty strong signal that if they want to observe, that they're willing to fund their costs of the bid committee," said Nenshi.

Calgary city council passed a motion last month to contribute another $1 million to the city's work ahead of a possible Olympic bid.

It's estimated submitting a bid to the International Olympic Committee could cost $30 million.

Council voted to call on the mayor to ask the federal and provincial governments to share the cost of a bid committee before allowing any more city money to be spent on the Olympic efforts.

At the legislature on Thursday, Premier Rachel Notley said her government had not yet made a formal decision on committing any money for a bid committee.

"We're still in the fact-finding and the research stage right now, but certainly, the City of Calgary invited us to go to the opening ceremonies, to participate in the fact-finding," said Notley. 

The premier indicated that her ministers will travel to the February games in South Korea at the expense of the City of Calgary.

Mayor likely to be part of delegation

Nenshi also intends to be in Pyeongchang.

"The city has been given a number of accreditation passes and, in fact, attending the Olympics as an observer is, I understand, a requirement for bid cities," Nenshi said.

"So if someone has to go, it does make sense for the mayor to be there."

Nenshi has attended past Olympics, but given that Calgary may be interested in submitting a bid, he said this trip will be more work than pleasure.

Normally, he likes to spend time with the athletes and their families while taking in some of the competition.

He said this trip will involve more meetings and less watching speed skating.